Skilled migration program is on target

Date: Jul 20, 2012

The government's 2011-12 permanent migration program has been delivered on target with the 185,000 available places being filled.

Minister for immigration and citizenship Chris Bowen noted that skilled migration accounted for more than two-thirds of the total program as overseas workers are employed to plug skills gaps.

Not only does the Australian economy present new challenges, but there is also the issue of an ageing workforce to contend with.

"Today's skill stream is highly targeted towards employer sponsorship, the regions and high value occupations, with over 60 per cent of skilled migration visas going to employer, government and regional sponsored places to help fill critical skills needs," he commented.

During the last financial year, 16,471 places were delivered under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, which is given priority by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Western Australia received the highest number of migrants through this scheme (23.2 per cent), which may not be surprising in light of the state's resources boom.

Record numbers were also delivered through state and territory sponsored visa classes - 22,247 places were assigned, up by 37.5 per cent on last year's figures.

The family stream welcomed 58,604 places, accounting for 31.7 per cent of the total migration program.

This enables Australians to be reunited with their close family, which usually encompasses partners, fiances and dependent children.

In some circumstances, parents, carers, orphan relatives and aged dependent relatives are also covered by the family stream, although this is something to seek professional advice on.

India was registered as Australia's largest source of permanent migrants - a trend that many migration lawyers may have seen emerging over recent months.

The country accounted for 29,018 places in the total migration program, while China took second position with 25,509 and the United Kingdom with 25,274.

In fact, seven of the top ten source countries for Australian migration in 2011-12 were in Asia, namely India, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea and Vietnam.

One of the smallest schemes over the past financial year was the Special Eligibility stream, which accommodated just 639 places.

This visa subclass involves people who are planning to remain in or return to Australia as permanent residents who never applied for Australian citizenship.

In order to be eligible, applicants need to submit their documentation within 12 months of the expiry of their last substantive visa.